What can we learn about global climate change by examining icebergs? This teaching collection provides resources to support a lesson on climate change and polar ice melt. It includes a video, link to a lesson plan and photo essay from the Global Oneness Project, images, and a Smithsonian article.
tags: climate change, global warming, iceberg, glacier, melt, temperature, environment
This collection explores a number of Supreme Court cases all looking at the rights students have in the American public school system. Students will encounter these court cases through primary and secondary sources, videos, photographs, podcasts, and historical objects. At the end of the lesson, students should be able construct an argument based off the compelling question "Are student rights protected in school?"
This collection asks students to examine an image entitled "Waiting for the Hour" and to try to determine its meaning and purpose. Students will practice interpretation with justification and then learn more about the history of "watch night services" and the importance of the 1862 watch night in United States history. They will also consider the legacy of this image--a copy is currently hanging in the White House.
tags: emancipation, freedom, Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, proclamation
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonianlaw codeof ancient Mesopotamia, dating back to about 1754 BC (Middle Chronology). It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a seven and a half foot stone steleand various clay tablets. The code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, adjusting "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" as graded depending on social status, of slave versus free man. The code was discovered by modern archaeologistsin 1901, and its editio princeps translation published in 1902 by Jean-Vincent Scheil. This nearly complete example of the code is carved into a basalt stele in the shape of a huge index finger 2.25 m (7.4 ft) tall. The code is inscribed in the Akkadian language, using cuneiform scriptcarved into the stele.
Something You should Know About Hammurabi's Code
In the 18th century B.C., the Babylonian King Hammurabi fashioned a compendium of 282 laws that set standards of conduct and justice for his empire in ancient Mesopotamia. Etched on an imposing seven-and-a-half-foot diorite pillar, or stele, the commands covered everything from property rights and criminal behaviour to slavery and divorce, and promised brutal punishments for all who disobeyed. These famous pre-Biblical laws helped shape Babylonian life in Hammurabi's time, but their influence would echo throughout the ancient world for over a millennia. Below, find out more about the fascinating history behind one of antiquity's most important legal codes.
It's not the earliest known code of laws.
Hammurabi's dictates are often cited as the oldest written laws on record, but they were predated by at least two other ancient codes of conduct from the Middle East. The earliest, created by the Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu of the city of Ur, dates all the way back to the 21st century B.C., and evidence also shows that the Sumerian Code of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin was drawn up nearly two centuries before Hammurabi came to power. These earlier codes both bear a striking resemblance to Hammurabi's commands in their style and content, suggesting they may have influenced one another or perhaps even derived from a similar source.
The Code included many bizarre and gruesome forms of punishment.
Hammurabi's Code is one of the most famous examples of the ancient precept of "lex talionis," or law of retribution, a form of retaliatory justice commonly associated with the saying "an eye for an eye." Under this system, if a man broke the bone of one his equals, his own bone would be broken in return. Capital crimes, meanwhile, were often met with their own unique and grisly death penalties. If a son and mother were caught committing incest, they were burned to death; if a pair of scheming lovers conspired to murder their spouses, both were impaled. Even a relatively minor crime could earn the offender a horrific fate. For example, if a son hit his father, the Code demanded the boy's hands be "hewn off."
The laws varied according to social class and gender.
Hammurabi's Code took a brutal approach to justice, but the severity of criminal penalties often depended on the identity of both the lawbreaker and the victim. While one law commanded, "If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out," committing the same crime against a member of a lower class was punished with only a fine. Other rank-based penalties were even more significant. If a man killed a pregnant "maid-servant," he was punished with a monetary fine, but if he killed a "free-born" pregnant woman, his own daughter would be killed as retribution. The Code also listed different punishments for men and women with regard to marital infidelity. Men were allowed to have extramarital relationships with maid-servants and slaves, but philandering women were to be bound and tossed into the Euphrates along with their lovers.
The Code established a minimum wage for workers.
Hammurabi's Code was surprisingly ahead of its time when it came to laws addressing subjects like divorce, property rights and the prohibition of incest, but perhaps most progressive of all was a stipulation mandating an ancient form of minimum wage. Several edicts in the Code referenced specific occupations and dictated how much the workers were to be paid. Field laborers and herdsmen were guaranteed a wage of "eight gur of corn per year," and ox drivers and sailors received six gur. Doctors, meanwhile, were entitled to 5 shekels for healing a freeborn man of a broken bone or other injury, but only three shekels for a freed slave and two shekels for a slave.
The Code includes one of the earliest examples of the presumption of innocence.
While it's notorious for its catalogue of barbaric punishments, Hammurabi's Code also set several valuable legal precedents that have survived to this day. The compendium is among the earliest legal documents to put forth a doctrine of "innocent until proven guilty." In fact, the Code places the burden of proof on the accuser in extreme fashion when it says, "If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death." The Code also includes a modern take on judicial procedures.
Historians are still unsure of the role the Code played in Babylonian culture.
Hammurabi's Code offers a valuable glimpse into what daily life in ancient Babylonia might have been like, but just how the laws functioned in society is still up for debate. The statutes could have been a list of amendments to an even earlier and more expansive set of general laws, but they might also have acted as a set of judicial precedents compiled from real world cases. Some historians have even argued the Code was not a working legal document at all, but rather a piece of royal propaganda created to enshrine Hammurabi as a great and just ruler.
The Code endured even after Babylon was conquered.
Hammurabi's empire went into decline after his death in 1750 B.C. before unraveling entirely in 1595 B.C., when a Hittite army sacked Babylon and claimed its riches. Nevertheless, Hammurabi's Code proved so influential that it endured as a legal guide in the region for several centuries, even as rule over Mesopotamia repeatedly switched hands. Copying the Code also appears to have been a popular assignment for scribes-in-training. In fact, fragments of the laws have been found on clay tablets dating to as late as the 5th century B.C.—more than 1,000 years after Hammurabi's reign.
The laws weren't rediscovered until the 20th century.
Hammurabi's edicts were a fixture of the ancient world, but the laws were later lost to history and weren't rediscovered until 1901, when a team of French archeologists unearthed the famous diorite stele at the ancient city of Susa, Iran, once the seat of the Elamite Empire. Historians believe the Elamite King Shutruk-Nahhunte plundered the four-ton slab during a 12th century B.C. raid on the Babylonian city of Sippar and then brought it to Susa as a treasure of war. Shutruk-Nahhunte is thought to have erased several columns from the monument to make space for his own inscription, but no text was ever added. Today, the pillar is kept on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Katie Veltri and Lillian McDermott
This collection includes three photographs by Farm Security Administration artists that use language and image to create an American scene in the late 1930s-early 1940s. The first has become an iconic image of the Great Depression by Margaret Bourke-White, although it has a more specific history that users will learn about. Students will be asked to consider why the first image became so closely linked with the Great Depression, how the artist and author used irony to make a statement, and how different groups may have experienced the Depression in different ways. After reading a passage from Bud Not Buddy (by Christopher Paul Curtis) and answering reflective questions, students will write their own passage about one of the remaining photographs.
-How do these artists use images and language to create rich portraits of America?
-In what way do these images suggest divisions or unity within America during hte 1930s and 1940s?
Tags: Bud Not Buddy, Margaret Bourke White, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Farm Security Administration, soup kitchen, bread line, hobo, hoboes, comparison, irony, descriptive writing
How did apartheid affect the lives of blacks living in Johannesburg in the late 1940s and early 1950s? What was the purpose of forced removal?
This student activity uses the examination of historical photographs as an entry point to learning about the forced removal of blacks from urban areas to townships & homelands under apartheid in South Africa. The images here are all from Sophiatown and Soweto. What details emerge about the life changes that resulted from being moved? What questions remain?
A journey through the past that will bring you closer to some of the Great Pharaohs and the treasures that they left behind.
This is a topical collection of resources related to the fight to end apartheid. Teachers and students can use this collection to explore strategies used to fight against apartheid as well as famous leaders in the fight. Strategies include economic sanctions, boycotts, and divestment, raising awareness through artists and musicians, nonviolent protest, armed resistance, and external political pressures on the South African government. This is a work-in-progress based on the digitized materials within the Smithsonian Learning Lab's collection--it is not meant to be wholly definitive or authoritative. Think of it as a starting point for further inquiry!
Possible student activities include:
-researching one strategy of resistance and/or one well-known leader in depth.
-drawing comparisons between political organizations and movements like the ANC, PAC, Black Consciousness Movement, and United Democratic Front.
-creating a timeline of resistance to apartheid.
-debating the use of armed resistance and "sabotage."
-interviewing adults who may remember the end of apartheid.
-drawing comparisons between the civil rights movement in the United States and the anti-apartheid movement.
-choose 1-3 events and make a case for them as turning points in the fight against apartheid. What makes these events so significant?
tags: apartheid, South Africa, Mandela, Tutu, Huddleston, Soweto, townships, Sharpeville, Defiance Campaign, Biko